Category Archives: Feminism

Role Model Sunday: Frances E. Allen

This entry has been published on February 23, 2014. Please bear in mind I have changed my views on some things since then. -- Dieser Eintrag wurde am February 23, 2014 veröffentlicht. Bitte denk beim Lesen daran, dass ich meine Ansichten zu einigen Dingen seither geändert habe.
Frances Allen, (cc wikimedia)
Frances Allen, (cc wikimedia)

As the first woman to ever receive a Turing Award for her work, Frances Elizabeth Allen is for sure a woman to be seen as a role model. She received the so called “nobel prize of computing” for

[…] pioneering contributions to the theory and practice of optimizing compiler techniques that laid the foundation for modern optimizing compilers and automatic parallel execution.
(Association For Computing Machinery (ACM), Citation for the A.M. Turing Award 2006)

After earning B.Sc. and M.Sc degrees in Mathematics, she started to teach at a school in Peru, New York (yep, there’s a city named like a country). She joined IBM in 1957, planning on paying off her school loans with that job – but she stayed with IBM for the rest of her career.

Let’s hear some more about her from the ACM:

[…] she introduced many abstractions, algorithms, and implementations that laid the groundwork for automatic program optimization technology, […] introduced the use of graph-theoretic structures to […] efficiently derive relationships and identify opportunities for optimization. […] Her 1976 paper with Cocke describes one of the two main analysis strategies used in optimizing compilers today.
(Association For Computing Machinery (ACM), Citation for the A.M. Turing Award 2006)

And that’s still not all of it. In 1989, Fran Allen was the first woman to become an IBM Fellow. Every year, the current CEO of IBM appoints 4 to 9 researchers at IBM an “IBM Fellow”, which is the highest honor a scientiest, engineer or programmer at IBM can receive. The Fellow Programme was created in 1962, in order to promote creativity among the company’s most exceptional technical professionals, only choosing people who will also be making important contributions in future.

Upon retiring in 2002, Fran Allen received the Ada Lovelace Award of the Association for Women in Computing. After also being awarded the Turing Award by the ACM (see citations above) in 2007 (for 2006), she was awarded an honorary doctor in science degree at SUNY University, Albany. In 2009, she received an honorary doctor of science degree at McGill University for her work.

For more information on Fran Allen, here’s her wikipedia entry, which was where I found most of my information for this short portrait. Sorry if some sentences sound very alike, but rephrasing is a bit hard sometimes 😉

Also, if you want to hear Fran Allen speak about her work herself, you can find her Turing Lecture Video here.

Computer Sciences, Social Sciences and Feminism

This entry has been published on February 5, 2014. Please bear in mind I have changed my views on some things since then. -- Dieser Eintrag wurde am February 5, 2014 veröffentlicht. Bitte denk beim Lesen daran, dass ich meine Ansichten zu einigen Dingen seither geändert habe.

It started out as a joke. A friend and I attended a lecture together, a lecture on Social Informatics, which was pretty … well, not up-to-date considering the materials and examples that were used.

So one evening we decided we’d hijack part of the lecture that would take place the next day. The lecture room would be open for us from 11 am, with the professor usually arriving at 11.20 am – so why not use those 20 minutes, during which students would already be there, or at least be arriving, to talk about something more up to date than airplane crashes from the late 1990ies?

Continue reading Computer Sciences, Social Sciences and Feminism

Tag Clouds: How NOT to do it

This entry has been published on January 27, 2014. Please bear in mind I have changed my views on some things since then. -- Dieser Eintrag wurde am January 27, 2014 veröffentlicht. Bitte denk beim Lesen daran, dass ich meine Ansichten zu einigen Dingen seither geändert habe.

Erste Bank is the oldest still existing commercial bank in Austria (wikipedia article, not available in English). Obviously, the marketing’s gender role models are just as old as their bank:

solid, family friendly, uncomplicated, informed, calm, transparent, consistent, stable, professionell, simple, accessible, flexible, modern
female role model

active, self-determined, modern, fast, professionell, dynamic, flexible, unattached, target oriented, informed, simple, transparent
male role model

So in Erste Bank marketing’s eyes, women are solid, family friendly, uncomplicated, informed, calm, transparent, consistent, stable, professionell, simple, accessible, flexible and modern.

And men? They are active, self-determined, modern, fast, professionell, dynamic, flexible, unattached, target oriented, informed, simple and transparent.

Those are serious gender stereotypes that should not be used by one of the biggest commercial banks in Austria. I hope they reconsider their marketing strategies.

P.S. Yes, I did take a closer look at that 2nd picture. Those extremely old-fashioned stereotypes seem not to be about how the person on the poster is, but what they want their investment fonds to be like. Still, those are stupid stereo types. I’m sure there are women who do like to experiment with new ways of investing their money in order to get a nice interest rate, just like I’m also sure there’s a lot of men who want to make sure their money is secure and will be available once they need it.

Feminism for kids: Frozen

This entry has been published on January 13, 2014. Please bear in mind I have changed my views on some things since then. -- Dieser Eintrag wurde am January 13, 2014 veröffentlicht. Bitte denk beim Lesen daran, dass ich meine Ansichten zu einigen Dingen seither geändert habe.

When I visited home these past holidays, my brother and I, his wife and son, plus some of her family, went to the movies and watched “Frozen”. The German title is “The Snow Queen”, as if it was just a movie version of the fairy tale, and what I had heard about it before had only referred to the movie NOT being true to the fairy tale. Also some of the comments I had read led me to believe it would only be a nice kids’ movie, but not as girl-power-y as, e.g., “Merida”.

But, oh wow, how wrong I was 🙂

I won’t be spoiling it all for the readers who haven’t seen the movie yet. To you, I say: go, watch it. It was good fun, also in German (well, I had to watch it in German, due to my company 😉 ), even with some unexpected turns and all.

So, to let you know what I LOVED about this movie, let me quote the short conversation I had with my nephew on our way home:

Me: See, in most movies, the girls need a boy to help them get out of trouble. But that’s not true. You saw in this movie, that girls indeed CAN get themselves out of trouble, right?

Him: Yes, right. There is this one girl in school, she never needs help when fighting with the boys. She is a pretty good fighter!

Cute. Next time I’m home, I hope I’ll have time to watch some more movies like that with him 🙂  Any recommendations from your side?

Mixed feelings, mixed contents

This entry has been published on December 12, 2013. Please bear in mind I have changed my views on some things since then. -- Dieser Eintrag wurde am December 12, 2013 veröffentlicht. Bitte denk beim Lesen daran, dass ich meine Ansichten zu einigen Dingen seither geändert habe.

Ever since I started writing about Feminism (here, here, and here), I feel like what I wrote before on this blog is now of no importance.

But damnit, I don’t want this blog to be a grumpy list of what I see in the world that I don’t like. Because that’s not who I am. I prefer seeing myself as a positive person, enjoying life wherever possible, and in general just doing my thing without letting myself being dragged down by stupid people who sometimes cross my path.

So consider yourself warned. In future, grumpy posts will keep showing up, because I think that talking about problems is the first step to getting rid of them. But fear not, I’ll still go on about how much I love Vienna and all 😉

Sexism: Visibility vs Existence

This entry has been published on December 9, 2013. Please bear in mind I have changed my views on some things since then. -- Dieser Eintrag wurde am December 9, 2013 veröffentlicht. Bitte denk beim Lesen daran, dass ich meine Ansichten zu einigen Dingen seither geändert habe.

This is a post that I’ve been thinking about since … well, 2 months. The title tells it all, it’s again about my post on what I have encountered at TU Wien that I regard as sexist. For the sake of completeness, here’s also the link to my addendum to that post (in case you missed it).

So, that blog post of mine seems to have made it as far as to the Austrian Students’ Parliament – yay! Also, it seems to have made quite an impression wherever it went.

Apparently the message heard by some people was that there is “a lot of sexism over there at Informatics”. It seems to me there are people out there who think what they don’t see doesn’t happen, as in “if nobody says there’s sexism at MY department, there is no sexism here”.

Maybe you’re not paying enough attention. Maybe your “sexism radar” hasn’t been fine-tuned yet. Maybe you’re just a hell of a lucky person who happens to be at a department where there are no sexist persons.

I’m a nice person, so I hope for you that it’s number 3. On the other hand, if you ever happen to be thrown into another environment, with less nice and less feminist persons, you’ll have a pretty tough time either getting accustomed to it, or – which I hope you’re already doing – changing it.

Making sexism visible as what it is – prejudice and discrimination based on a person’s gender and the stupid belief that one gender is overall superior to the other, thus making it alright to dominate the seemingly weaker gender – is the first step of making it go away.

And that’s what I was hoping for. Raising awareness that there’s still much to do at TU Wien. Finding allies. Maybe even starting something that might end up in changing my University.